FightPost Boxer of the Week: Jose Zepeda
By Gary Kittilsen
On what was supposed to be a relatively uneventful weekend of prizefighting, even the hardest of hardcore fight fans may not have marked Saturday, October 3rd, at the MGM Grand’s Bubble on their calendars.
However, no fight fan will ever forget what they witnessed when Zepeda vs Baranchyk went down.
On paper, it was a solid matchup, two top ten 140-pounders who have secured solid wins and produced entertaining scraps in the past. That being said, no one would have predicted what they saw in what will almost certainly be the Fight of the Year.
The non-stop action the two incredible warriors exhorted combined fora total of eight knockdowns in less than 15 minutes of total action that eventually concluded with a two punch check hook, left-hand combination that will almost certainly be the Knockout of the Year.
As Jose “Chon” Zepeda of La Puente, California, secured a vicious fifth-round knockout as well as the number one ranking by the WBC and our Fighter of the Week award.
Former world champ Ivan Baranchyk started the fight as if he was shot out of cannon, looking to take Zepeda’s head off with violent left hooks and right hands. A straight finally connected with just over a minute left in the first round and put Zepeda down.
Another right-hand, left-hook combination put him back down to the canvas just moments later. After the first three minutes, Baranchyk looked to be on his way to a blow out victory. Zepeda tried getting back in the fight and scored his first knockdown In the second round with a left hand.
However, Baranchyk got up and got back to work landing a sizzling right and putting Zepeda down a third time. Despite all the punishment he absorbed “Chon” seemed to seize control of the fight in the fourth, dropping Baranchyk again with a double right hook that badly hurt him.
Looking for the stop in the fifth Zepeda landed a series of powerful lefts that evened up the knockdown score at three apiece. Baranchyk came out on fire looking to get back into the fight in the fifth and sent his opponent down once again with a thudding straight right hand.
Baranchyk had seemed to retake control of the bout and was hurting Zepeda, and just then lightning struck. A check right-hook followed by a picture-perfect left hand from Zepeda put Baranchyk down and out. Referee Kenny Bayless immediately waved off the bout giving Zepeda the fifth-round stoppage victory running his record to 33-2 (26).
If the year were to end right now Jose Zepeda’s name would be on a very short list for fighter of the year. He has secured two victories in the MGM Bubble.
Back in July, he overcame upstart prospect Kendo Castaneda in a highly entertaining scrap and then scored the sensational knockout over Ivan Baranchyk.
Those two wins combined with the upset victory he scored last year over Jose Pedraza via unanimous decision has shown that he is fully recovered from the close and controversial loss he suffered at the hands of now unified champ Jose Carlos Ramirez back in 2019, and has put Zepeda in a mandatory position to secure another world title shot.
After coming up just short against first “Turbo” Terry Flanagan in 2015 and then Ramirez last year, perhaps the third time will be a charm for Zepeda. However, there’s good news and bad news for the contender from California. He is the mandatory challenger and will get a title shot but may have to wait for that shot.
The other two champs in the division, Ramirez and Josh Taylor are likely to square off first. But the good news for Zepeda, is that when he does get his title shot, it will likely be for the undisputed 140-pound crown, whether that’s against either Ramirez or Taylor.